by Solomon Elusoji
China’s relationship with Africa is presently at an all-time best and the comprehensive and strategic cooperation plans between them mean they have concrete understanding of each other’s needs and aspirations.
This was said by Zeng Aiping, Deputy Executive Director of the China-Asian African Cooperation Centre, ahead of the third Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing in September.
“I think it is the best time in history for China and Africa relations,” he said during an interview with Xinhuanet.com recently.
He pointed to the frequent meetings of high-level officials from both parties as a sign of a healthy relationship. “This kind of high-level political visit strengthens mutual trust,” he said.
Zeng stressed the tangible economic elements of the relationship.
Since 2009, Zeng said, China has been Africa’s largest trading partner. Now, it is also one of the biggest investors on the continent.
“We have a lot of direct investments in Africa and have also financed a lot of big projects, especially in the infrastructure sector,” Zeng said.
The quality of the relationship, according to Zeng, has been improved with increasing people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
Asked why China does not focus on issues such as corruption and human rights in the African countries, he said China is committed to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others.
“From my perspective, I think this is the right approach for China to engage with Africa,” he said.
“China follows the non-intervention policy. Not only in Africa, but other parts of the world. China believes that you cannot understand Africa better than the Africans.
"So, our approach to Africa is more practical, more concrete, more tangible. We help African countries build infrastructure. This is tangible. Everybody can see this and feel it," he said.
He added that China does not follow the kind of ideological diplomacy promoted by the western countries.
"Our approach is different and I think this is the right way, the right approach and it is beneficial to the Africans.
"We try to help Africans develop their economies. If the economy develops better, I think human rights can be better guaranteed, ” Zeng noted.
On what African countries can learn from China’s economic rise over the past four decades, Zeng pointed to the need for strong governance and correct, open, robust economic policies.
He believed FOCAC will be a useful platform to collectively discuss China-Africa cooperation while helping African countries further improve their economic strength.